Police obtain new videos, six incidents now being investigated in St. Mike's case
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, November 20, 2018 11:44AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 20, 2018 5:55PM EST
WARNING: This story contains details about an alleged sexual assault that may be disturbing.
Toronto police are investigating two new incidents believed to involve students of St. Michael’s College School, after obtaining two videos connected to those incidents on Tuesday.
Sex Crimes Insp. Dominic Sinopoli tells CP24 one of the new videos they have obtained is being treated as a threat investigation, while the other is being classified as an assault with a weapon investigation.
In the assault with a weapon video, Sinopoli says a person is being assaulted with a belt.
The total number of incidents being investigated in connection with the school now stands at six.
“We have not yet identified the victims in these videos, and or clarified whether they are or are not victims,” Sinopoli said, adding the videos were not provided to police by school administrators.
“I don’t even know if the school is aware (of these new videos),” Sinopoli said. “Up until now the school has been fully cooperating.”
Later on Tuesday, St. Michael’s College School tweeted that it forwarded along “two digital files” to police on Sunday but did not watch them.
They say they do not know if the files they sent along are the two videos police disclosed on Tuesday, but say they are working with police to identify the victims and suspects contained in them.
Sinopoli said the video files they received from the school on Sunday are related to incidents that were already under investigation.
On Monday, six students were charged with sexual assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon in connection with an incident where a male student was allegedly sexually assaulted with a broom handle in a school locker room.
A video of that incident was first obtained by school administrators on Nov. 12; it was turned over to police two days later. CP24 has learned the date of the incident was Nov. 7, 2018.
School principal Gregory Reeves told CP24 on Sunday that the delay in disclosing the video to police was to allow him to conduct his own internal investigation and begin expelling students.
Administrators also obtained another video on Monday, showing an alleged assault.
Eight students were expelled from the school and one was suspended, in connection with the two incidents.
One of the six boys charged criminally was arrested by police while he was on his way to school. Sinopoli said it was his view that the school had missed him in their own internal investigation that led to the expulsions.
“The individual who was arrested (on his way to school), it is my belief that the school did not appreciate his involvement,” Sinopoli said.
The boys charged in connection with the first sex assault case — two 14-year-old and four 15-year-olds — all appeared in youth court at 311 Jarvis Street Monday afternoon. Each was released on bail is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 19.
Sinopoli said it is too early to say if investigations into the latest videos will result in charges.
None of the allegations has been tested in court.
Shortly after the new investigations were disclosed by police Tuesday, St. Michael’s issued a statement saying it is cancelling its mid-year assessments, previously scheduled for December.
“Throughout this time period, students will also participate in workshops and discussions pertaining to the issues that have arisen,” school administrators said in a statement.
The school says it also cancelling all extracurricular activities and sports teams for the remainder of 2018, “with the goal of returning to all such events in 2019.”
Loralea Merritt, a parent of a St. Michael’s student, told CTV News National Tuesday that overall she is impressed with the speed at which she says the school is dealing with the incidents.
“As a parent I am very impressed with what I’ve seen the school doing. The action has been very quick and very appropriate. There have been a number of initiatives from assemblies held last week with the students to bringing in guidance counsellors and social workers to support the students who feel the need for counselling or therapy, as well as this review that is going to be conducted to take a very close look at not only the current culture but the historical culture as well.”
Speaking about the new incidents Tuesday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said any and all forms of abuse are not acceptable in schools.
“If there is a culture whether there or anywhere else where these kinds of things are happening that indicates that a culture change is necessary. And I am sure that is something that is very much on the minds of all the parents and other members of that school community and should be on the minds of a lot of other people.”
In its own Child Protection Policy, enacted in 2013, St. Michael’s College School administrators are urged to report even the suspicion of sexual abuse to the Toronto Children’s Aid Society.
Furthermore, “in emergencies,” the policy says members of the school community “are encouraged to immediately contact the local police department.
The contact information for Toronto police 13 Division is included in the policy handbook.
The policy includes a penalty of a $1,000 fine for any school officials who “fails to report a suspicion that a child is in need of protection based on knowledge obtained in the course of a professional or official duties.”
St. Michael's College School's Child Protection Policy